Meet the 2017 BOE Candidates

  • Two Open Board Seats for 2017-18 Year
    There will be two vacancies for the North Tonawanda City School District Board of Education. Members will serve a three-year term commencing July 1, 2017 and expiring June 30, 2020. Candidates receiving the top two highest vote totals will assume the seats. The election to fill these vacancies will be held from noon to 9 p.m. on May 16, 2017 along with the annual school budget vote. 
    Five candidates will be on the ballot. Biographies will be posted here as they are submitted.
    Board of Education Candidates (in ballot order): 
    • Barbara McCarthy
    • Zachary Niemiec
    • Matthew Kennedy
    • Elizabeth Sanderson
    • Bonnie Litten-Shiesley 

    Meet the Candidates: 
    Barbara McCarthy
    I bring something to the table that no other person running does - my experience. While some people may look at that as a negative, let me explain why it is not. The time I have served on the board, there have been many issues, topics, budgets, etc. that have crossed my path. Most recently is the topic of the utility tax. My knowledge of this particular topic and experience helped me immediately recognize that this subject had been previously discussed in other years by other former boards, it was turned down then, and for all the reasons the community is already aware of.
    What I am trying to say is our board needs someone with the knowledge of past decisions, actions, presentations, and problems, someone who can use that knowledge to help teach the newer board members and give them the insight of decisions made past tense. My goal is to continue to not only remember our history, but also represent our community in the present to help continue to the make solid well-rounded decisions I am known for.
    I have been called the school board watchdog, a title I wear proudly; I am not afraid to speak my mind and stand for the people that live and pay taxes in this community. I know there can be a happy medium between taxes and the children’s education. I hope my record stands for itself. 

    Zachary S. Niemiec


    • North Tonawanda Senior High School Class of 2011.
    • Bachelor of Science degree from Johnson & Wales University, 2014, in Marketing with concentrations in Marketing Communications & Operations Management.
    • Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality, 2015 from Johnson & Wales University.

    Son of the late George Niemiec and Gwendolyn Lekki, Stepson of Dennis Lekki, Brother to Katelyn Niemiec-Klimek & Ryan Niemiec and grandson to the Late George Niemiec and Judith Niemiec as well as Nelson & Mary Ann Schultz – all of North Tonawanda.

    Currently, I am an Accessories Sales Specialist at Joe Basil Chevrolet.

    Former North Tonawanda City Schools Substitute Teacher, former Marketing Specialist for Chartwells Higher Education Food Service, and former Gallery Guide & Assistant Camp Counselor at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

    NTHS Academy of Business & Finance, NTHS DECA Alumni Member

    Taught in NT school classrooms as a substitute teacher and worked side by side with students, faculty, and staff. I have had a seat on the High School’s Academy of Business and Finance Advisory Board since graduation. In the past, I also held a seat on the NT Youth Board.

    The reason for running: 
    I decided to run now because I feel like we are at a tipping point. The current generation wants to be more involved because they believe things can be different — they believe we can still have differing opinions and still get work done. We are sick of polar opposites. I believe it is important to have people involved with varying experiences and ages, so all angles can be addressed. I have seen the frustration of students sitting with 3 study halls a day by the time they are seniors. My run for a school board seat stems from a desire to ensure that students, who are the future of the community, get off to a good start in life. Our students need all the possible materials and classes that they would possibly want to take. I also believe in the importance of a sound spending plan for the district. I want us all to be asking “Are we directing funds to the best places to most effectively utilize what we have to spend and meet our goals?” As well as asking “How are districts like us spending less money and achieving better results?” NT is currently rated 74th of 96 rated school districts by Buffalo’s Business First. It was ranked 55th when I graduated in 2011. It is my goal to work with the school board, teachers, staff and the community to grow this ranking to provide North Tonawanda students the education they deserve.

    Matthew Kennedy 
    Matthew Kennedy is a life-long resident of North Tonawanda and proud alum of North Tonawanda High School. Matthew is a Pre-Sales Technical Engineer at Ingram Micro in Williamsville, NY. He holds several technical certifications from many of the leading tech companies including Dell, APC, and Vertiv. He is involved in several community events and charities with Ingram Micro and on his personal time. Matthew is a proud member of the North Tonawanda High School Chorus Parent Alumni group and has been involved in every event since his graduation in 2009. Matthew looks forward to working with students, parents, and teachers to maximize what our children can achieve in North Tonawanda. Thank you for the support on May 16th.  

    Elizabeth Sanderson 
    Elizabeth Sanderson is a homeowner in the city of North Tonawanda where she was born and raised.  She is currently a first grade teacher as well as a music minister. Elizabeth is an alumni of Ohio Elementary, Reszel Middle School, and North Tonawanda High School. She received a Bachelor of Science in Childhood Education in 2012 from Buffalo State College and is currently wrapping up her Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction at SUNY Buffalo. She holds certifications in Music Education, Elementary Education (reading emphasis), and Arrowsmith Program cognitive therapy. Elizabeth has worked closely with the youth of our city for a decade in various capacities including private music teacher, choir director, drama camp director, NTHS Drama Club vocal director, event attendee, and volunteer. Elizabeth can offer a unique perspective to the board as someone who has firsthand knowledge of working in a classroom as well as being a first-time homeowner on a budget. She understands the necessity of being fair and fiscally responsible for the taxpayers as well as giving our educators the support that they need to ensure a high-quality, well-rounded education. She strongly believes that investing in education ultimately invests in our community by attracting homebuyers and hopefully enticing our youth to start their families here as well. 

    Bonnie Litten-Shiesley 
    Personal/Professional Background:
    Bonnie Litten-Shiesley born and raised in North Tonawanda, and is a lifelong resident from childhood through parenthood. Bonnie graduated from NTHS in 1987, and furthered her study in Business at NCCC. The Litten family (parents John and Terrie, brother Rob) have owned and operated a local family business, JL Automotive for many years. Professionally, Bonnie has been a strong advocate for health and fitness, focusing on the North Tonawanda local community as a Personal Trainer and Health Coach for the past 18 years. In addition, Bonnie founded the local chapter of FSMA - Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and acted as President. Through her efforts, Bonnie has raised over a half a million dollars for research and family support through the foundation. Bonnie has two children in the district currently. Her son Kale is a 10th grader at NTHS, and daughter Kyler is in 5th grade at Drake Elementary School.
    A background dedicated to our City and local community for generations.
    Bonnie’s motivation for a seat on the School Board comes from her firm belief that children are our greatest resource. Every child has the potential to use his or her gift to benefit the community, and beyond. She is prepared to take on a lead role, to fulfill our community’s responsibility to our children, which is to provide the support and resources to encourage children to mature, develop and to reach their full potential. Education starts with family, and extends to friends, neighbors, and ultimately, our school systems. 
    A philosophy that invests in our collective future, whether you’re a parent or not, based on strength and sensitivity.
    As a parent of a special needs child, Bonnie has faced unique personal and system-oriented educational challenges. That piece of her experience has forced Bonnie to more deeply navigate the inner-workings of the school district. As a parent of a mainstream child, Bonnie also recognizes the current educational climate that all parents encounter. 
    A parent’s perspective that includes a broad and deep exposure to education, and specifically North Tonawanda education, from up-close. 
    Fiscal Responsibility:
    As a board member, Bonnie will also champion the taxpayer, to ensure that the district is fiscally responsible. All avenues for project and program funding must be thoroughly explored. Opportunities exist to expand programs and facilities, while reducing cost. Innovative fundraising, partnerships with local businesses, and exhaustive research of grant availability may all have a part to play. 
    An approach that places focus on creating a balance that works for the community and our children, where taxpayer resources are wisely allocated to most benefit the children.  
    Qualifications Summary:
    Bonnie Litten-Shiesley brings a fresh, unique perspective to the North Tonawanda School Board, representing us all, and covering the bases from many sides:
    • An active parent, who has navigated the system up-close for years.
    • Deep relationships in the community with parents, teachers and business people.
    • Strong fundraising and budget management experience.
    • Middle-income perspective, fiscally responsible.
    • Dedication and Commitment to deliver the time and effort you deserve.